Five things you might not know about Ricky Tomlinson
Proud Scouser Ricky Tomlinson explores his roots in the fifth episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Series 13, broadcast on Thursday 15 December. But what else do we know about the Royle Family actor?
Don't miss Ricky's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on Thursday 22 December (Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty)
For a national treasure who, over a career spanning 30 years, has starred in some of the nation’s best-loved series, Ricky Tomlinson is as pugnacious and unapologetically foul-mouthed as ever.
And that’s surely a good thing. Ricky first appeared on our screens as the domineering Bobby Grant in Brookside, and has since been a familiar personality known for his northern pride and razor-sharp profanity.
Whether he’s playing a gaffe-prone England manager, a street-wise police detective, or the loveable patriarch in the critically-acclaimed The Royle Family, Tomlinson brings his own working-class wit and no-nonsense charm to any role.
As he embarks on his Who Do You Think You Are? journey, here’s five facts you may not have known about the actor:
1. Scouse house
Although born in Blackpool, Ricky Tomlinson has lived nearly his whole life in his beloved Liverpool. Indeed, he has become so associated with Scouse culture he even received the freedom of the city in 2014. It may come as no surprise he is also an avid Liverpool FC fan.
Before his acting career, Ricky was deeply involved in the tumultuous politics and industrial strife of the 1970s. Known as a firebrand socialist, he was sentenced to two years in prison as one of the so-called “Shrewsbury Two”. Not one for Tony Blair’s modernising agenda, he frequently used the slogan “New Labour My Arse” at public meetings.
3. A right Royle classic
The Royle Family was an instant hit with audiences, in part due to the misanthropic grouchiness of Jim Royle – who Tomlinson played with obvious relish. His regular outbursts, usually punctuated with “my arse!”, became iconic. So much so that an album was released in 2001, titled Music My Arse, and even a Christmas single (titled Christmas My Arse, quelle surprise) in 2006.
4. My Farce
Ricky Tomlinson’s role as the cringe-worthy title character in Mike Bassett: England Manager, is so true to our national obsession with the failures of the England football team that it can be quite uncomfortable to watch. His expletive-strewn half-time rant at his players at the film’s climax has been used by some as an example of how England gaffers should be. Of course, the team went on to lose 4-0.
5. Cabaret old chum
As viewers of The Royle Family will know, Tomlinson is a keen banjo and harpsichord player. As well as releasing albums with fellow Brookside star Michael Starke, he also opened his own cabaret club in 2010 not far from the River Mersey.